On Thursday, Oct. 23, Rob Galloway spoke on the “Law of Vision” and the world’s need for problem solvers as part of the Weidman Center Leadership Lecture series.
Galloway began his remarks by relating an experience he had in 2004, while working as an engineer for US Synthetic. Galloway had been promoted to the position of production manager and was conducting research on other companies. While touring another company's factory, Galloway and his colleagues were amazed at the efficiency and positivity of their operations. He discovered that they were currently implementing 1,700 employee suggestions a month from 1,700 employees.
“I asked ‘how is that possible?’” said Galloway. “And they answered my question with a question: ‘what is your ratio of problem finders to problem fixers?' The light bulb went off.”
Galloway explained that creating and sustaining a culture of giving and implementing ideas is key to keeping your organization effective. If an employee’s ideas are not valued then they are less likely to continue developing creative solutions to organizational problems.
At US Synthetic they would take suggestions from their employees, review them at a monthly meeting and then pass them on to the facilities manager, who already was attempting to implement 250 other changes.
“We were reading our employee’s ideas, but we weren’t implementing their ideas.” Galloway explained. “But since that time we’ve implemented over 30,000 employee suggestions a year.”
The focus of his remarks was how “vision empowers improvement.” Once a vision is seen, then an organization or individual can understand where they are and where their vision will take them, and how to get there. Vision allows people to see the gaps, or problems around them, and Galloway believes that if one can see the gap then they can then solve the problem.
“If you can’t see that something is broken, how would you fix it?” he asked. “Sometimes we live life unaware that things could be better and it’s not until our lives start going poorly that we realize something is broken.”
Galloway explained that many times when a worksite is struggling, the employees are the first to receive blame. However, in his experience the real problem is usually good people outperforming a broken system and a weak vision.
“It’s rarely a people problem,” said Galloway. “It’s always a people solution, but a weak system and a weak vision handicaps us too much of the time.”
His remarks concluded with his explanation that when one is doing something of true value to help improve lives, that person is not creating motivation, rather satisfying an intrinsic motivation that we’re all born with. When meaningful vision and a culture of aligned problem solvers are deployed then those involved accomplish more good, achieve more success and experience more happiness.
Rob Galloway earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah. He is currently serving as the president of US Synthetic, after joining the company in October of 1997. Additional information regarding Rob Galloway, including a video of his lecture, can be found here.